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How to make screen time for children more positive

Kids and screen time.

It’s one of those things that we try to get right as parents but there’s no magical rulebook that contains all the answers.

And there’s a simple reason for that.

We have to remember that not one size fits all. Whether you decide on no phones at the dinner table or spending more time outdoors, it all depends on what works for you.

After all, every family, and every child is beautifully unique.

In a world where we’re surrounded by screens, it’s not always easy to monitor screen time – but there are certainly steps we can take to promote healthier online habits at home.

As parents, we have an obligation to lead by example, so we’ve rounded up a few things to keep in mind if you’re worried about your kid’s screen time.

If you’re doing some of these already, we salute you.

Choosing the right digital experiences

The internet is becoming a big part of children’s lives across the world. As our little ones get older, there isn’t much guidance on recommended screen time for kids – and advice can often be unclear or conflicting.

A recent report by UNICEF called ‘Growing up in a connected world’ explains that “the aim...should not be to restrict the quantity of screen-time...but rather to improve the quality of children’s online experiences.”

Now this isn’t to say you shouldn’t take precautions on screen time (because you certainly should). It’s still important that we set some boundaries at home.

But we must also focus on incorporating positive digital experiences into our children’s lives, so that the time they do spend on screens is as beneficial to their development as possible.

An example of this is LEGO® VIDIYO™, a digital app that encourages children to think out of the box and explore their creativity by making their own music videos.

These kinds of experiences can help kids to develop a range of creative skills such as filming, problem solving, directing, dancing and producing – as well as providing them with a platform to express themselves, combining the benefits of both physical and digital play.

The app allows them to get active in a safe environment with several safety measures put in place such as a parental dashboard, anonymity of its users and sharing permissions.

It’s a fun activity that the whole family can get involved in (and the video never even has to leave your camera roll).

Let’s expose children to the right kind of content by choosing high-quality, enriching experiences.

The value of digital

Technology is a wonderful thing and gives children access to a range of online learning materials, support and information, plus new and immersive ways to have fun. There’s value in digital so we should embrace it as part of our child’s lifestyle.

Interacting with online experiences can help them to:

- Learn online

- Explore their creativity

- Enhance self-expression

- Feel a sense of belonging

- Stay connected

- Engage in interactive family moments

The UNICEF report found that “children who participate in more online activities tend to have better digital skills compared to those who engage in fewer activities. This means that parents should facilitate rather than hinder children’s internet use, by helping them discover new exciting things to do online that will enable learning and personal development.”

Digital experiences can also create fun family moments to look back on, like co-creating imaginative music videos with your kids during playtime and making memories together while you’re at it.

Of course, there are some risks. One concern many parents have is whether their children are staying safe online. It’s important to have conversations at home related to online safety and wellbeing. If you don’t know where to start, our Build and Talk resource can help tackle these topics in a relaxed, fun and engaging way.

Nobody said parenting in the digital age would be easy, but if we become advocates for a healthy digital diet then we know we’re doing a good job. Read our blog on how to help keep kids safe online.

So how can we find a balance?

Cherishing time offline

Technology can be awesome, but make sure your child is cherishing their time off screens too.

It’s important to remember that screen time should never be a replacement for outdoor or physical activity.

Engaging in family moments like building with LEGO bricks, playing sports, interacting with nature, reading books or going for a bike ride with friends are all great examples of valuable activities that will aid in a child’s development.

A 2019 report by the UK Chief Medical Officer found that “these and many other factors supersede screen time in their importance for ensuring the best start in life.”

With that in mind, let’s start to view digital screen time as a way to complement your kid’s day-to-day lifestyle – but not to rule it.

Here are some tips for a healthy digital diet...

If you feel like you don’t have your family screen time under control, here are a few simple things you can do...

- Help your kids choose high-quality online experiences that are challenging or creativity-driven to encourage development and skill building.

- Keep kids moving. Encourage the use of apps that provide creative stimulation as well as physical movement to get children up on their feet. Here’s how to make a music video at home.

- Be a good example. If you are talking with your child, avoid checking your phone at the same time. Try to be present.

- Agree on boundaries for screen time and consider keeping phones and tablets away from bedrooms at night.

- Organize fun activities that prioritize family time and togetherness.

- Make sure your child is getting a regular, good-quality sleep.

- Prioritize your child’s education before engaging in screen time.

- Teach them how to stay safe online with our helpful guide and resources such as Build and Talk.

- Introduce screen-free zones at home like at the dinner table.

In today’s digital world, kids can access a whole new world of fun and opportunity on their devices. Let’s help them find a balance.

Start implementing some of these tips at home and see how it goes...

For more advice, check out our top 10 tips online safety tips.

Good luck!